Traveling With T guest blog post: Confessions of a tree junkie
I enjoyed looking through Tamara’s blog while preparing to write my post for it and particularly liked the #literaryconfessions. What a fun idea! So, here are my own #writerlyconfessions:
Confession number one: I just made up the word writerly. We writers are allowed to do that, right?
Confession number two: I pretend it doesn’t matter that much, but I’m really sensitive to my writing environment. Yes, I have scoffed in the past at people who say they can only write in certain places or at certain times. Aside from a slight preference for morning, time of day doesn’t matter much to me, but place does.
I pay rent on a lovely office in downtown Decatur (near Atlanta) with a view of the town. Yes, I have a non-writing job that makes it necessary to have an office away from home. It’s generally quiet and comfortable, and I have a nice couch, wireless internet, and a Keurig machine. Yet I put off going to the office today so I could work on this post at a coffee shop. Why?
It’s no accident that there are lots of scenes in the woods or on balconies in The Mountain’s Shadow. If I were in that setting, that’s where I’d be, somewhere under the trees or where I could see them. My heroine Joanie Fisher has fond memories of visiting her grandfather at his Ozark Mountain estate and the walks they would take through the woods. Perhaps I, too, have early learning and associations between trees and comfort. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and the lot next to my parents’ house is undeveloped and wooded. In the summer, I fell asleep to a symphony of crickets and other night insects. In the winter I gazed at the lacework of leafless branches against the sky. When I’ve traveled out West, I’ve felt smothered by the exposed openness of the desert.
There’s also a potential psychological principle at work. I’ve heard in various contexts that when you’re stuck creatively, looking at something green can move you past the block. Researchers have actually proven the association between looking at something green and creativity with a series of experiments in Europe.* In one study, participants had to log into a creativity test through either a predominantly green or a white screen, and the ones who logged in on the green one scored 20% higher on the task. That’s significant. The results were the same even when compared with other colors like red and blue.
So here is a sampling of my preferred writing spaces. See the commonality?
My favorite room in my house when the weather is nice is my back patio, which is covered. The only thing that would make it better would be if it were screened in. Yeah, mosquitoes love me.
I even sneak in outside writing in the middle of the work day when I can. There’s a little bench under the bridge by the stream at the Wesley Woods Health Center on Emory University’s campus. I snuck in some writing one day before an afternoon preceptorship workshop.
That was a bonus because it is very wooded, and there’s a stream. Gazing at any body of water seems to also get my creativity going. Yes, I’ve tried writing at the beach, but I’ve found I have to do that long-hand due to sun glare and general concern about electronics near salt water. Perhaps there’s also something about lack of foliage that makes me prefer to read rather than write at the beach. My dream writing view would have both trees and ocean.
Oh, and my absolute favorite place to write? On the porch at my parents’ cabin in Blairsville, Georgia, which is about two and a half hours north of Atlanta. I can hear a stream, but I can’t see it. That’s okay; mountains stretch into the distance and make for a lovely view even when there are no leaves on the trees.
Blairsville also has a major advantage over Atlanta in that it tends to be cooler and less humid, so there’s more opportunity to write outside.
So, regardless of where you write or read, think about having something green nearby. It might be inspiring.
To connect with Cecilia, please visit her website.
To see the other tour stops on The Mountain’s Shadow, please visit here.